Dominus Sion, et consolabitur omnes ruinas ejus; et ponat desertum ejus
quasi delicias, et solitudinem ejus quasi hortum Domini.
The history of St.
Bartholomew-the-Great describes a story of human
kindness. The church is dedicated to Voragine’s light-hearted
apostle, identified by many scholars as Nathaniel, famed in the Middle
Ages for his prowess as a healer of bodies and souls: The angels go
with him, which never suffer him to be weary ne to be an hungered, he
is always of like semblant, glad and joyous.
founder, Rahere, built the priory and associated hospital in
fulfillment of a vow to the apostle, in thanks for his miraculous
recovery from malaria. Bartholomew promised Rahere – in a
vision or a fever dream – that prayers for healing made in
his church would always be heard and answered:
For everyone who being
converted and penitent shall pray in this place shall be heard in
heaven, or, seeking with a perfect heart help from any tribulation,
without doubt shall obtain it; to those who knock with pious longing at
the door of the Spouse attendant angels shall open the gates of heaven,
receiving and offering to God the prayers and vows of a faithful people
(Book of the Foundation, ch. 4).
St. Bart’s has given solace
to the poor and dispossessed of London since its establishment in 1123
Throughout the turbulent medieval period and through the cataclysms of
the Reformation, St. Bartholomew’s maintained its devotion
to the well being of its neighbors. Unlike the more common monasteries
founded with great enthusiasm by the Normans after the Conquest, the
Augustinian canons of St. Bart’s lived in the world, bringing
medicine and spiritual leadership to a London suburb better known for
its slaughterhouses and gallows. Despite several budget crises in
latter years, the hospital founded by Rahere is still available for the
sick and impoverished, the traumatized, the homeless. St. Bartholomew's
Hospital and the London Hospital - known locally as Barts and the
London - house the pre-eminent trauma and emergency care units in the
UK. Rahere must be smiling.
In 2008, 885 years after its founding by Rahere, the Priory Church of
St. Bartholomew the Great still lavishes spiritual guidance on its
parishioners, as well as its visitors from around the world. The living
story of St. Bartholomew’s continually reminds us that of all
the variety of human gifts, kindness alone is never a mistake, and is
Recommended External Sites
The Priory Church of
St. Bartholomew the Great
-- the official Web site of St.
digital version of E. A. Webb's encyclopedic
Records of St. Bartholomew's
-- This overview includes links to the tables of contents of each
volume, as well as an invaluable search engine for the entire work.
Diocese of the Church of England
of the Exterior by Keith (Boiler Bill) Chesworth
London Volume 2
edited by Charles Knight
-- 1842 discussion of Rahere's
, hosted by Tufts University
and text copyright Tina
modified 30 January 2016